Christmas in Seattle

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We have just returned from a week with my parents in Seattle. Today is New Years and we’re celebrating by being mostly unpacked, lounging around the house, everyone but me nursing a cold. For a wild New Year’s Eve, 0ur kids were asleep by 6:30pm and we were in bed way before midnight. Thank goodness fancy sweatpants are a thing right now, because I’m staying in these as long as possible. The better the vacation, the harder the recovery, right?

Christmas in Seattle was great! It started by sharing the flight with some of our best friends who brought presents for our kids to open in the airport. Fist bump, Rogstads. You guys are awesome. The week only got better from there. It really feels like Christmas and winter when we bundle up for walks and come in from the cold, peeling off hats and gloves. My mom is a champion chef and kept us well fed and nourished (please also understand that I ate roughly eighteen cookies every day. It’s been a struggle adjusting back to regular eating!). My dad is a toddler whisperer and never tired of carrying London around (“Carry you! Dat way!”) or coming up with new games for Cruz to play. Spoiled. We were totally spoiled. I am insanely grateful that we are able to travel to see my family and that my kids have some of the greatest grandparents in the world. Watching the bond between my kids and my parents is one of the greatest Christmas presents I could ask for.

And the memories we made were incredible! I always seem to forget to pull out my camera when the really fun stuff is happening (but pictures on the playground? I have roughly 8500 of those on my phone), but our highlights included going to see the Zoolights, Children’s Museum, a chilly walk on the beach, mother-daughter spa day at the Fairmont Hotel, and a long, delicious dinner with some of our best friends. London’s favorite gift was her new baby doll stroller and Cruz’s was his new bike. They are such fun little people to have around at Christmastime. Couldn’t have asked for a more fun holiday.

 

Summertime in British Columbia

We have just returned form a little family vacation in Whistler, British Columbia. It’s the afternoon, and I have coffee brewing in my mug as I sit down to write and start my second day. My suitcase was hastily unpacked last night, but the kids’ clothes are sitting in piles on the floor of Cruz’s room. I like to come home to a clean house, but there are already peanut butter smears on my counter and crushed puffs under the highchair. It doesn’t look like we were away, but my spirit feels energized and excited about the rest of the summer. It’s so good to travel and so good to be home.

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Whistler is known as one of the top ski resorts, but it is secretly also a simply amazing place to visit in the summer! We flew up to Vancouver, BC and then drove about two hours north into the mountains to meet up with my parents (except it was three hours because holy traffic, Vancouver!). Growing up in Seattle, we went to Whistler every summer, and I can’t tell you how special it feels to bring my own children up there. Not unexpectedly, we had two and a half days of rain, and then two and a half days of heat and sun. No matter the weather, Whistler is dramatically beautiful. Like, take your breath away beautiful. It’s full of hiking trails, bike paths, great restaurants, musicians, kids activities, excellent grandparents (well, in our case!), and evenings that still light until 10:30pm. On Instagram I kept tagging our pictures with #whistlerismagical because it is.

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On our first day of sun, my dad, Tovi and I took a gondola up to the top of Whistler Mountain, then another gondola over to Blackcomb, and back. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life. Every time we came around a bend or hiked ten feet further, the view was even better. Everywhere you looked, God’s glory was on display. And a cappuccino and cookie with my dad and husband on top of the world isn’t a bad way to spend the afternoon.

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Traveling with grandparents is awesome! I love love love that my kids are making these sweet memories with their Maka and Papa. Tovi and I even got to sneak away a few times for dinner or drinks, and that time together is precious! (After all, we all know that traveling with kids is not a vacation!) 

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Especially if you’re on the West Coast, I highly encourage you to travel to Whistler. It’s easy to get to, it offers a different view than our Southern California beach + dry hills, Canadian hospitality is unparalleled, and your kids will stay in their regular time zone!

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The Day Date

WYWN Day Date

the day date! what a magical invention. one of tovi’s sweet clients gave him a gift certificate to andersen’s, one of his favorite breakfast spots. the last couple of times we’ve been there, it was with our kids, so i did not have a good time, and was willing to try it again, just the two of us.

everything about a day date is the best. we dropped the kids off with tovi’s mom really early in the morning and the two of us were sitting down to breakfast by 8:45. we sat outside to people watch. we alternated between coffee and champagne, pastries and eggs. we talked. we dreamed. we agreed that, given the opportunity, we’d move to germany. this is the kind of crazy talk that only happens when our conversation is uninterrupted and unhurried. and it was only 9:15! the whole day was ahead of us!

before our date, tovi had proposed that we each pick somewhere to go after breakfast. i chose the new santa barbara public market and he chose a walk along the breakwater. it was a simple morning, walking around, checking out the fresh pasta at the market, and the crabs scuttling on the rocks in the harbor. it’s so good for us to pause, in the daylight and sunshine, and really see each other and connect. there was something so refreshing about being out together during the day. can’t wait for our next day date.

A Lovely Little Day in San Francisco

 

we took a long weekend up to the bay area a few weeks ago, and snuck in a dreamy day in san francisco. i lived in san francisco for a semester in college and then again for the year between graduation and getting married. i love the city, but have never really experienced it with kids. we go up to the bay area often, but going into the city usually seems like a far-off dream. we planned to visit san francisco this time, but even then i thought, “ah, sure. that’d be nice if it happened.” but it did! what a lovely surprise.

seeing san francisco with two kids was fantastic. we gave ourselves some limits (parking only once, keep our route pretty flat), which helped to narrow down our options. our day ended up being predictably touristy, but guess what, we’re tourists.

the weather app on my phone had been telling me to expect coooold temps and cloudy skies in san francisco, but as we drove in over the new bay bridge, it was sunny! and kind of warm!

we parked one block off of embarcadero and headed towards the ferry building, but first walked down a long pier, watched some old men fishing, and some young men wearing too many accessories. we doled out snacks and took pictures of the bay bridge and couldn’t believe our luck that we had actually made it into san francisco.

it’s been years since i’d been to the ferry building, and we loved every inch of it. and every calorie. we seriously ate our way from one end to the other. tovi fell in love with some cinnamon almond brittle while i couldn’t get enough of this nutella-filled italian donut (i mean, i literally couldn’t get enough because cruz has not quite caught onto the concept ofsharing food).

we made it a goal to walk down to pier 39 to look at the sea lions and get lunch. there was so much to look at and listen to the whole way down. the exploratorium had a ton of interactive exhibits outside on the piers, which were cool to see and made me want to check out the museum next time we’re in town.

sea lions. street performers. fish and chips.

the kids both fell asleep on the long way back to the car and stayed asleep, so we drove around the city and reminisced about our dating days in san francisco. we held hands so much of the day and i kept saying, “i can’t believe we’re here!” absolutely perfect day.

Isla Vista

my dad came to visit last week. it was a quick trip, but one that we tried to pack full of lots of silliness and fun things.

we had phenomenal weather while he was here, and took advantage of it by spending a lovely little afternoon in isla vista (the college neighborhood behind us). isla vista is like… peter pan and the lost boys. it’s populated almost entirely by college students (like, thousands of 18-20 year olds). but there’s a lot of great spots for families too, and i think we came up with a pretty great isla vista agenda.

stop number one: freebirds for nachos to split.

are you ready for a life-changing nacho related tip? get ready to thank me: guacamole and barbecue sauce together. uh.may.zing.

stop number two: crushcakes for cupcakes.

i let cruz eat one before his lunch because i’m the mom of the year.
stop number three: enjoy it all at the dinosaur park!
it was perfect and warm and full of chasing cruz and moving our cupcakes out of london’s ever-increasing radius. isla vista is full of little gems, right here in our backyard. and come back soon, dad! we miss you!

This Way to Butterflies

as part of intentionally parenting with wild freedom, i am trying to say yes. yes to extra trick-or-treating. yes to hanging out with our neighbors. yes to spur of the moment play dates. on saturday my friend ashley texted me saying that she and her son were headed over to the butterfly preserve and would we want to join them? yes. we actually didn’t end up overlapping at the preserve for more than a few minutes because of naptimes and trying to wrangle two children into clothes, but i am so glad we said yes!

it was closest to perfect you could imagine. my little boy walked up every steep hill on his own, scrambled over big logs, and took off running in the woods like the best little adverturer you could dream of. we kept choosing to wander down paths that took us deeper and deeper into the woods, stopping to find butterflies and listen to the wind stir the eucalyptus trees. it was warm with just an undercurrent of cool ocean breeze. i stretched my arms wide wide wide because God is so good and His creation so beautiful and He made my children to be so precious and i just can’t dare keep that kind of praise to myself.

 

London

we’re back from a tremendous week in london. it was a good thing we left the baby behind with my parents, because otherwise i would have been tempted to chuck my plane ticket and stay. for.e.ver.
i get so energized and inspired by city life (ok, city vacation life + perfect weather + no responsibilities), and on the plane ride home, i wrote down a couple of “london resolutions” that i hope to share here as they unfold, just to keep me a little accountable.
one of my first resolutions sounds super silly and vain,  but here it is: wear more real outfits, less yoga pants.
the whole trip i felt so confident and pulled together, somewhat the opposite of how i feel at home. i’d like to keep that feeling. i was so excited that i started writing this post as an all-outfit post… which turned out, in fact, to be super silly and vain of me. so… outfits with pictures and narration of our trip! take it away!
if flying with a toddler can be hell, flying without a toddler is heaven. never have ten hours on a plane flown by with such bliss. we watched episodes of parks and rec, movies, someone brought us food and then cleared it away. i recommend international travel highly.
for the first few days of our trip, we stayed at a little boutique hotel called no. ten manchester. here we are about to hit the town, about two hours after landing. not a moment to waste!
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we wandered and discovered st christopher’s place a few blocks from where we were staying. st cp (as i’m going to call it) is a gorgeous couple of blocks of restaurants spilling over onto sidewalks and alleyways. it was a packed friday night, and i just sat at our table thinking, “yesss. we are here.”
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the next morning we found a branch of our favorite cafe from our last trip within a few blocks of the hotel. one giant plate of eggs benedict and one latte later, we were ready for a walk through regent’s park. we seriously could not have asked for better weather– sunny and warm.
after our walk, it was time to go to craven cottage for the highlight of tovi’s year– fulham!!
the lads won three-nil (oooo, i am sooooooo english). celebrations all around! meat pies for everyone! over breakfast, tovi had drawn the starting lineup for me, so i felt impressed with myself for knowing all their names. we had a seriously good time.
another delight of traveling without a toddler is that we could linger and walk and explore the city without a care for anyone’s bedtime. after the game, tovi said, “let’s go to covent garden for dinner!” so we did.
After dinner we had ice cream at the icecreamist, and i can’t believe we didn’t take a picture of this– they serve a flavor made from breastmilk. “human breastmilk,” the man specified in answer to my question. i will just leave it at that.
the next morning was hyde park:
lovely.
and harrods:
larger than life.
and harry:
straight up dream come true.
on monday we packed our bags, and headed across town to stay with tovi’s aunt and uncle. lucky for us, they work at salvation army international headquarters, right between st. paul’s cathedral and the tate modern.
but after a second round of eggs benedict, naturally.
all were amazing and inspiring. more resolutions: walk more. visit more museums. get around inspiring things. learn how to cook eggs benedict.
we started the next morning with a walk through crystal palace park which hosts one of the world’s first “purpose-built dinosaur exhibits.” (crap! we’ve accidentally built another dinosaur exhibit!) this next picture is evidence that our aunt and uncle have a prestigious address and that i definitely still wore my yoga pants. old habits die hard.
we took the train back into london to visit borough market, the churchill war cabinets, walk about one million extra blocks by accident, and then see wicked!
on our last day, we went to the london eye (so touristy and yet so amazing), saw parliament, big ben, shopped at topshop (we’ll all be wearing burgundy this fall, apparently), ate cookies on the street, and then saw the leonardo da vinci “anatomist” exhibit at the queen’s gallery in buckingham palace.
but first, one of my favorite outfits of the trip:
we ended the trip with such a highlight– a long, lingering, and delicious dinner with tio popi and tia deise. it was such a fun blessing to stay with them.
sniff, sniff. back to the airport in my best olsen twin travel chic.
i miss that grand old city. here’s to london 2015!